Name the Blank Contest

Kenny Brechner -- May 25th, 2017

There is a lot to be said for receiving a good questions that one doesn’t know the answer to. Dispensing information we’ve already acquired has its place, of course, but digging around and learning something new is a finer thing. The other day a longtime customer, who is a very thoughtful local chiropractor, asked me one of those questions.  It went like this.

Jan: Hey, I need the name of something that I’m sure you know.

Kenny: Bring it on.

Jan: You know the blank page on either side of the title of a new part of a book, the blank pages that are only there when there is a big stopping point and a new beginning in the story?

Kenny: Sure.

Jan: What are they called?

Kenny: That’s a great question and I don’t know the answer. Yet. I’ll find out for you. I’m not totally sure they have a name but I’ll find out.

Jan: Excellent. I’m sure they’re called something. They’re too important.

Kenny: Hmmn, I agree that they should have a name, but it might be that they are just called blanks.

Jan: No. They need a name.

So I called some of my reps and set them to finding out from other departments what the pages were named. It  turned out that they really are called either blanks or publisher’s blanks. When I broke the news to Jan he was sorely disappointed. “It’s really important,” he said, “because here (he gestured to the first window in a row of four) is part one of the story, and here (he gestured to the third window in the row) is part two. But here, (he pointed at the window in the middle of parts one and two, is the exact place so many people are in their lives. An important part of their lives has just ended and a new one is beginning. They can write anything they want in Part Two just as long it is a meaningful transition from what came before. And that’s what’s so important. Just because it is part of the same book doesn’t mean they can’t start something totally new and write whatever they want to. I need to explain that to people who are on that blank page. It can’t just be called a blank, but because it is not. It is colored by but not controlled by what has come before. It needs a good name.”

Kenny: The book world has totally let the side down here.

Jan: It has.

Kenny: Give me ten days to try and have us rally round.

Jan: Ten days eh? (Laughs.) Sounds good!

And here we are on day three, needing to “uproot the evil in the fields we know,” by rectifying this disappointing omission. “Do you have an idea for a great name for those blank pages? Set it down below and next week I’ll announce a set of three finalists for everyone to vote on. Have at it!

14 thoughts on “Name the Blank Contest

  1. Janet Mark

    Breathers – such a blank appears ONLY in novels we call “literary”….plot-driven page-turning novels do not waste a turning page. (any have counterexamples)?) And the literary are word-driven, some of the kind that is the Johnson above, driven by a poet. Each short chapter is an emotional event or story situation. One should breathe.

  2. Paul Many

    Here are my candidates:
    Blank ops
    Blotting pages
    Widow Wadmans or just “Wadmans” (after the blank page in Tristram Shandy where the reader is invited to draw his or her own conception of what the Widow Wadman looks like.)

  3. Carol B. Chittenden

    Could be called “LIfe,” as in “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” Blanks are what happens while the printing is poised to continue the author’s other plans.

  4. Luan Stauss

    Pause Page : Theoretically blank page signifying the end of a chapter and portion of a story and the need to take a breath or have a cocktail before continuing on.

  5. James Frenkel

    In a book, such pages really are just “blank”–because the next part of the _book_ follows, is there.

    In life, that blank is, I would think, “Now” and it’s up to each person to do whatever he or she is going to do next, to decide what “now” is . . .

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